More Americans have affordable insurance and can pay their medical bills since ACA

More Americans have healthcare coverage and access to medical care since the Affordable Care Act's provisions took effect, according to a new research from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The report, "2015 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report and 5th Anniversary Update on the National Quality Strategy," found the ACA has had the most far-reaching effort to improve access to care since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

The report measures access to care based on whether people have health insurance, a usual source of care, difficulty when seeking care and if they can receive care as soon as they want. After years without improvement, access to care has improved in several areas since 2010, according to the report:

  • The rate of uninsured citizens under the age of 65 dropped from 18 percent to 10 percent.
  • The rate of uninsured for 18- to 29-year-olds was cut by more than half, from 31 percent to 15 percent.
  • Among the poor, the uninsured rate dropped from 44 percent to 25 percent for those ages 18-64.

Access to care has also increased under the ACA, the report found. The percentage of people with a usual place to go for medical care increased overall for blacks and Hispanics. Hispanics showed the biggest gains, climbing from 77 percent in 2010 to 83 percent in the first half of 2015.

Furthermore, the study found that fewer people reported trouble paying their medical bills within the past year. Poor people (below the federal poverty level) ages 18-64 saw the greatest benefit, and all racial and ethnic groups showed a decline in payment problems during this period. 

"These new data demonstrate that the Affordable Care Act is achieving its goal of helping millions of Americans gain health care coverage, with the most substantial progress shown among young adults and the poor," said AHRQ Deputy Director Sharon B. Arnold, Ph.D., in a study announcement.

To learn more:
- here's the report (.pdf)
- read the announcement